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Culture specific and culture general refer to two complementary types of knowledge and skills that help people understand other cultures and function effectively in them. Culture-specific approaches encourage deep understanding of one cultural context through detailed cultural knowledge. Culture-general approaches organize culture-specific data in ways that facilitate cross-cultural comparison and generalizability of knowledge. This entry outlines defining the characteristics of each and explores their relationship to the following sets of closely related terms: ethnography/ethnology, emic/etic, and objective/subjective culture.

Culture Specific Versus Culture General

The difference between culture general and culture specific is an important one in the study of cultures. It reflects the necessity of attending to (a) deep-seated cultural differences that lose their nuanced meanings when rendered outside their cultural contexts (culture specific) and (b) broader ...

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